Silex Technology Helps Phoenix Contact Future Proof a Wi-Fi 6E Opportunity

Thursday 9/8/22 08:35am
Posted By Ramya Kanthi Polisetti
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The Challenge
Simply mentioning supply chain delays, especially in the last few years, tends to create instant stress and headaches. This is especially true for embedded engineers that rely on specific components for their products. However, as we’ll see in this blog post, the right technology company can sometimes turn a component delivery delay into an opportunity!

Phoenix Contact, a worldwide leader in manufacturing industrial automation solutions, offers solutions and products used in production and logistics facilities. They had already integrated Silex Technology’s Wi-Fi 4 (SX-PCEAN2) modules into their industrial Access Point (AP) and Wi-Fi clients. However, supply chain issues in the semiconductor industry and the risk of an end-of-life scenario meant they were faced with the prospect of not meeting their customers’ needs. This situation accelerated their next-generation product plans, and they again turned to their trusted wireless connectivity partner, Silex, for a solution.

The Solution
Silex delivers highly reliable and secure wireless connectivity products for medical, industrial, and commercial customers. We have a long-standing relationship with Silex as they are one of our hardware advantage network members, and have significant expertise in integrating our radios into their products.

As an Authorized Design Center, Silex incorporates the latest technologies into their connected solutions

Phoenix Contact targeted Wi-Fi 6 for their solution because of the unique attributes it brings to IoT, including better real-time behavior and more extensive installations with more devices. So when Silex announced the first Wi-Fi 6E solution for embedded medical and industrial IoT devices, Phoenix Contact quickly jumped at the opportunity to utilize Wi-Fi 6E and the newly available 6 GHz spectrum for their next-gen products.

Mr. Pape, Master Specialist FO Wireless at Phoenix Contact, commented on the decision: "It is common to find a mix of legacy clients operating on the Wi-Fi network, making the network sub-optimal. Legacy clients are inefficient, and the overhead needed to maintain backward compatibility contributes to further efficiency losses."

He went on to say, "Wi-Fi 6E does not only help make the new products future-proof, but it also does away with the complexities of the past by limiting access to only Wi-Fi 6 and newer protocols in the 6 GHz band. Coupling the Wi-Fi 6 protocol with Wi-Fi 6E spectrum will allow Wi-Fi 6 abilities to shine in a greenfield installation."

New SX-PCEAX wireless LAN combination builds on Wi-Fi 6E

The solution supplied was their SX-PCEAX, a tri-band (2.4GHz / 5GHz / 6GHz) wireless LAN combo module that supports Wi-Fi 6E + Bluetooth® v5.2, based on the Qualcomm QCA2066. Due to Silex’s close relationship with our engineers, Phoenix was given early access to the driver software even though it had not yet been finalized. As detailed in their release, the types of benefits realized by Phoenix in choosing this module for their AP and client devices are:

  • Wi-Fi 6E extends the benefits of Wi-Fi 6 into the 6 GHz communication spectrum, enhancing speed and reliability.
  • With seven super-wide 160 MHz channels available in Wi-Fi 6E (in the US), devices have two to three times the bandwidth capacity available on Wi-Fi 6 networks versus those operating in just 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz.
  • The module supports both station and access point modes. It is equipped with a wide range of features unique to Wi-Fi 6, such as Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) and Target Wake Time (TWT), to enable high-speed communication and enhanced communication efficiency and stability of the system.

Can Wi-Fi 6E be a Solution for You?
The question often asked of Silex during these projects is why we need Wi-Fi 6E. So Silex created a compilation of Wi-Fi 6E Frequently Asked Questions to help customers understand and evaluate the benefits of wireless connectivity in the 6GHz range.

If you’re looking for more information, you can watch their on-demand webinar, Accelerating the Future of Connectivity to Wi-Fi 6E, where our experts along with those from Silex Technology, TE Connectivity, and Arrow Electronics discuss the following topics:

  • An overview of Wi-Fi 6E technology and its many benefits
  • The details of Silex Technology's industry-first enterprise-grade Wi-Fi 6E module
  • Antenna solutions for Wi-Fi 6E modules by TE connectivity
  • How to begin evaluating Wi-Fi 6E with Arrow Electronics

Where Silex and Wi-Fi 6E Are Going Next
The SX-PCEAX module is only the first in the Silex portfolio. Healthcare facilities and education campuses are looking to invest in low-latency, high-capacity Wi-Fi 6E networks to deliver mission-critical, high-bandwidth applications and services. Silex is meeting this move head-on and plans to port the Wi-Fi driver to different platforms and support multiple OSs to help customers evaluate and integrate the solution. Many of their customers have unique feature requests, and they continue to work closely with us to suggest and supply new features, such as bridging mode for the Qualcomm QCA2066. Silex believes that “When It Absolutely Must Connect,” latency will be critical, and they are investing their resources to demonstrate the latency benefits of using Wi-Fi 6E.

Silex has spent decades researching and developing technology geared toward providing zero downtime as part of their “Absolutely Must Connect” approach.

Beyond the SX-PCEAX, Silex, a member of the Qualcomm Advantage Network, is looking to develop and release an AP module based on the Qualcomm QCN9072 chipset. Adding this module to their portfolio will allow their customers to design AP products. This is precisely what Phoenix Contact plans to do with the launch of this module coming next year. This true access point module will provide both AP and client devices with Wi-Fi 6E to maximize the benefits of the technology.

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Qualcomm QCA2066 and Qualcomm QCN9072 are products of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries. Qualcomm Advantage Network is a program of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. and/or its subsidiaries.